What is the difference between HD, 2K, 4K, and 8K? Each designation indicates the number of pixels on a screen. But the pixels themselves don’t actually have a specific size; they’re just individual illuminated components on a screen. So when we say something is 4K, we’re saying that the max number of pixels that the screen supports is roughly four thousand pixels wide. Here’s a chart:
1280×720 720p, HD
1920×1080 1080P, HD
3840×2160 4K, UHD
7680×4320 8K, FUHD
So what about 4K TVs that are different sizes? The larger the TV, the larger the pixels. So a 720p TV will have larger pixels than a 4K TV of the same size. In this case, 4K is higher resolution, allowing for more detail.
Now that we have explained resolution, let’s explain why it is important. Whether you are shooting on a camera or a phone, you will need to set your resolution before shooting. Despite what TV dramas show us, you can’t just press an “enhance” button on the keyboard and magically get more resolution. If you want to see your footage in 4K, get a camera that shoots in 4K, and set the resolution to 4K (some may be set to a default res of 1080P). On the TV side know that not every TV will benefit from 4K or 8K. There are calculators that say how big your TV should be before upgrading to higher but based on our personal, very unscientific methods, we see 50” TVs as the smallest size that benefit from 4K. Any smaller than that and it’s really hard to tell that there are actually more pixels on the screen. 8K TVs are still a few years away.
As for content there’s still very little in the way of 4K TV shows and movies available for your big shiny new TV, but it’s getting better. Netflix shoots almost all of their original programming in 4K. Some YouTube channels also upload in 4K but there aren’t too many at the moment. If you do want to stream any 4K content, it’s recommended that you have at least a 25 megabit per second internet connection. If you’re more into physical media there’s also 4K Blu-Ray discs, but you will need a player that actually supports them. Your standard Blu-Ray player from a few years ago won’t play the new stuff. And finally, for my digital file loving friends out there, just know that 4K video files are very large. So if you want to keep all those ultra-high def files on your system, you’re gonna need storage space. A 1TB drive won’t even hold 35 feature-length movies at 4K.
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